5 Things We Learned from "city.ballet." Season 2, Episode 3

November 18, 2014

Season 2 of “city.ballet.”—the AOL On series that gives an insider’s look at New York City Ballet—is live now! We’re recapping one episode per week. Watch all 12 at dancemagazine.com.

What’s it like to lead New York City Ballet? Peter Martins has been ballet master in chief of the company for more than three decades. Episode 3 gives us a peek inside his world as he rehearses some of NYCB’s most beautiful dancers in one of his own ballets, Morgen. Here are five things we learned from the ep.

Martins rehearsing company dancers (Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB)

1. Martins’ sisters might hate him just a little bit.
 He first discovered dance at age 7, when his sisters were auditioning for the Royal Danish Ballet. Martins was just sitting out in the hallway, “reading Donald Duck,” he says, when one of the instructors asked him to point his feet. Based on that alone, he got in. His sisters? Not so much. Yeeps!

2. It was
West Side Story
, not George Balanchine, that pulled Martins to NYC.
Martins decamped from his native Denmark to the Big Apple because he’d fallen in love with the idea of the city through Jerome Robbins’ masterpiece. Only once he’d joined NYCB did he discover Balanchine’s incredible world. (He also discovered that Robbins was working with NYCB, too.)

3. Martins considers ballets to be living, evolving things.
Like Mr. B. himself, he likes to tailor older choreography to new casts of dancers; we see him reconfiguring Morgen to better fit principals Maria Kowroski and Sara Mearns. “That’s the great thing about choreography: You can fix things!” he says. “As opposed to a painter, who sells his painting, and then there’s nothing he can do about it.”

The company in Morgen (Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB)

4. Dancing in your artistic director’s piece can be kind of nerve-racking.
“You always want him to be happy with what you do, but there’s a different pressure with his ballet,” Kowroski says. “You want him to say: ‘OK, I picked the right people.’ ”

5. Sara Mearns has amaaaazing leotards.
That blue one! I want it.

Click the image below to watch the full episode!